ANCHORAGE — The U.S. House Ethics Committee is considering whether to investigate Alaska Rep. Don Young, following an inquiry into whether donations to the Republican’s legal defense fund exceeded the contribution limit.
The committee said Monday it would make a decision by Jan. 11. The panel’s statement follows an inquiry by the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics, which reviews allegations of misconduct and sometimes refers those matters to the Ethics Committee.
The office sent Young’s case to the committee on Oct. 13. The inquiry’s findings haven’t been made public, and it’s unclear what prompted the office’s investigation.
Young’s spokesman, Luke Miller, said Monday that the investigation has centered on contributions to Young’s legal fund.
In a July 6 letter to Ethics Committee Chairman Jo Bonner, Young said 12 contributions were made to the fund by Louisiana companies during the reporting period that ended March 31.
It was the legal defense fund trustee’s opinion that each of the 12 could legally donate if they were all separate legal entities operating with separate financial records, Young said. He added he believed the trustee used her “best legal judgment” since the specific issue isn’t addressed by contribution rules.
In a separate letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics in September, Young said the trustee would return any funds that the Ethics Committee determines to be in violation of the contribution limit.
Young has cooperated with the inquiry and asked the Ethics Committee to issue an advisory opinion after he learned of the investigation last summer, Miller said.
The congressman felt the request was necessary since legal defense fund rules are “ambiguous,” Miller said.
“Considering the hell Congressman Young has gone through over the past five years, he would not knowingly do anything that would violate House rules,” Miller said in an email.
Young’s office last year said the congressman was no longer under federal investigation over connections to an Alaska businessman convicted of bribing state lawmakers.
Young denied any wrongdoing in the long-running probe. The legal fund was created to help him pay off his legal expenses.
Young was re-elected to the 112th Congress in 2010 to serve his 20th term as Alaska’s only Representative to the United States House of Representatives,according to his official website.
Young was first sworn in as a freshman to the 93rd Congress after winning a special election on March 6, 1973,
He today is the seconf ranking Republican member and the 6th ranking overall member of the House of Representatives.